This week, the team at Hill Holt Wood have been hard at work hosting an entire year group of Year 7’s from the Sir William Robertson Academy. The five-day camping event allows the young people to get to know others in their year group in a hands-on, outdoors, and most-importantly, fun atmosphere.
In the Birch Area, Rangers Bex and Aidan were teaching our different groups the fundamental skills used in strawbale construction. Onto a timber base plate sitting on rammed tire foundations, the kids helped stack three layers of straw bales and practiced hammering hazel stakes through each course to bind them together. Once the walls had been placed, the different options for wall finish was discussed, and the keen students got the opportunity to practice the skills learnt on their previous workshop to place a four-beam reciprocal roof on top. The kids were always keen to take part in the demolition of the building, but not always as cooperative when it came to placing the bales back into a tidy stack. We lost many good bales to the mayhem and the weather, but it was all worth it to hear how the children spoke enthusiastically about how they would build their own straw bale building.
Over in the Fire Pit area, Ranger Chris was teaching the reciprocal roof workshop to an eager group of students. Chris expertly taught students to tie a box lash to hold the poles tightly together without them slipping out. Amazed by the way six poles could be placed in such a way that is supported itself without any structure below, further enjoyment came from lifting each other up with the structure they had just built. Using the example of the double reciprocal roof in the café here at Hill Holt Wood, Chris demonstrated how an additional layer could be added to the existing structure using the same box lash to hold them in place. With its increased span, the roof was now able to extend across the fire pit, allowing students to test the structure by climbing across it.
In the afternoon, the team were helping get the students through an Ecological Survey qualification. Hollie, Bex and Aidan were teaching different techniques of measuring and identifying trees, as well as identifying the bugs and wildlife living on them. It was really inspiring to see some students thriving in the outdoor environment, picking up advanced knowledge with ease. In the evenings the team hosted a range of other woodland activities, including den building, bat walks and fire starting. Each night was concluded with a cup of hot chocolate in the café, with excited children preparing to spend the night in a tent with their new friends.